THIS WEEK’S FRUIT:
Frog Hollow Farm, Brentwood, CA
The Apache is one of the newest varieties of apricots introduced to growers and was developed by the USDA Agricultural Research Service. It’s early off the tree but doesn’t sacrifice any flavor or texture to beat its more popular cous- ins off the branch. Apache’s skin is pinkish-orange, with an orange flesh that is finely textured.
Churchill-Brenneis Orchard, Ojai, CA
Creamy in texture, nutty in flavor, with a small to medium seed. The Hass skin is easy to peel and darkens from green to purplish-black as it ripens.
CCH, Riverside, CA
Valencia Oranges are known for their very sweet tasting and brightly colored juice. They are one of the most popular varieties used for bottled juices because of this. Their sweet, bright flavor and minimal seed content and sweet flesh that makes them a perfect snack.
Churchill-Brenneis Orchard, Ojai, CA
Pixie tangerines are a late season variety that begin ripening in March and April. Their tough skin gives way to fruit with a very robust flavor.
Sundance, Oceanside, CA
The Grapefruit is said to be a cross between the Jamaican sweet orange and the Indonesian pomelo, first documented in 1750. Under its thick, red-blushed skin you’ll find an aromatic, ruby red, juicy flesh with a perfect sweet tart flavor.
A NOTE FROM FARMER AL:
Dear CSA Members,
As this week draws to a close, our field crews are settling into a familiar seasonal rhythm of summertime activities. For the tree team each day begins with picking fruit. This week we’ve only had Apache Apricots to pick, so my 6:00am meeting with team leader, Antonio, is brief, less than 1 minute. Everyone knows what to do, where to do it and how to do it. No special instructions needed for the day except to say, “Vamonos!” and get to it!
Tractor work needs a little more planning. When mowing, we have to be mindful of where the irrigation was last done. Soil compaction is really bad for the tree roots so we absolutely do not want to drive the tractor over areas that are still wet or damp ground. When doing the spraying (yes, even organic farmers have to spray – but what we spray is different than conventional growers) we need to be careful to read and review all material labels to plan for worker re-entry restrictions and harvest intervals (wait time after spraying). As organic growers the materials we use are generally benign (non-toxic) to humans but none-the-less we are still VERY cautious to adhere to label instructions. Even when applying compost, we never apply it to a block of trees within 60 days of harvest, just to be extra safe!
These days the ground team starts the day changing irrigation “sets”. That is, they move the irrigation from one block of trees to another block. We have three pumps, each sending water to its own network of tree blocks (groups). Since the pumps are sized to pressurize for a limited number of acreage, we typically need a week to ten days to get water to all our trees. Careful planning and coordination must be done daily between the tree team and the ground team to be sure irrigation doesn’t interfere with the more urgent need to pick fruit at the optimal time. After changing the irrigation set they work on either weed control or shredding wood for our on-site composting.
In closing we would like to thank each and everyone one of our CSA members for sticking with us through the years. We hope everyone understands our need to increase our prices this year to cover our increased cost of doing business. We pride ourselves in being very cognizant of the cost of food for families like you (and ourselves – we have school age kids too!). We never increase prices without careful consideration. The last time we raised our CSA share cost was 2010. During the last 6 years minimum wage has increased to $10.00 per hour. Six years ago we didn’t offer health insurance. We started offering health insurance to those who wanted it 4 years ago. This year it became mandatory for us and our costs soared. Workers Compensation insurance has increased, fuel prices have increased, cost to maintain our vehicles has increased, electricity has increased, water increased … We could go on and on with the increases to the cost of doing business that have occurred over the last six years. Don’t get us wrong, we don’t mind. We actually understand and support these increases, however, when it’s time to pay the mortgages and there’s barely enough money in the checking account to do so, well, we’re forced to look at a price increase and we thank each of you for your understanding and continued support.
That’s it for this week – gotta go check the trees and see what else might be getting close to harvesting!